CONSTANCE F. HORTON executive director of FAME
On April 25, the Fund for Advancement of Minorities Through Education held its 15th Annual Luncheon “Educating the Leaders of Tomorrow.” The organization provides scholarships for African-Americans students to attend private high schools.
“It’s so exciting to see so many old faces in the room, friends of the organization who were here at the inception of this organization and have supported its growth,” said Constance Horton, FAME executive director. “When we began there was just one student at each school, but through collaboration with those schools, we’re now able to provide scholarships to 68 students.”
FAME was founded in the 90s to address the low number of African-American students enrolled in independent schools in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Students receive scholarships to attend The Ellis School, St. Edmund’s Academy, Sewickley Academy, Shady Side Academy and Winchester Thurston.
FAME recently created a program to identify 6th grade students and help them transition into FAME high schools. Through the program, which includes a summer academy, students learn social and academic skills to prepare them to adjust to the high expectations at FAME schools.
“We work really hard to create networks of accountability and encouragement for students,” Horton said. “Our retention rate is so high because our space for failure is so small.”
At the luncheon, FAME announced the creation of a college scholarship by Robert Morris University for a FAME scholar to attend the university. The scholarship was announced by RMU President Gregory Dell’Omo who served as the event’s keynote speaker.
“It’s always exciting when people understand the importance of the work we do,” Horton said.
Of the 82 FAME scholars you have graduated, all have gone on to colleges and 25 percent are pursuing graduate level degrees. More than 50 percent of the college graduates have returned to Pittsburgh.
“It’s opened so many different doors for me. If I didn’t get the FAME scholarship my eyes wouldn’t have been opened to all of the opportunities out there,” said Erika Drain, a senior at Winchester Thurston. “I learned how to act professionally.”
FAME’s program is focused on college preparation and provides students with more than just financial assistance to attend independent schools. Students are supported throughout their academic careers and are given life skills ranging from study skills to time management.